Penguin Random House Rewrites Its Creative Process
Change is never easy. But when the Random House division within Penguin Random House was ready to make the switch from Lytho Classic to the more modern Lytho platform after nine years, Michael Harney, Vice President of Art Operations was bound and determined to make it a success – earning his organization Lytho’s Change Management Champion of the Year award.
He had been through it once before. The organization had already come a long way since onboarding with Lytho in late 2012. In an industry that was once so paper-driven, everyone had grown accustomed to routing all reviews by hand. They added paper-clipping notes to the original documents as they went through multiple routes. So they were hesitant about switching to digital for those processes. “It was a huge challenge to get them online. But it was interesting to see how, over time, they came to truly appreciate it, love it, and see how valuable it is.” And that appreciation was amplified when COVID-19 forced everyone to work remotely in 2020. “We would have been dead in the water, if we hadn’t already been up and running with this.”
So when the Random House division started migration to the new platform in March 2022, Michael proactively prepared for potential resistance. He put together several short how-to videos, showing what the platform would look like in Random House’s day-to-day use. He included tasks like creating custom reports, using Random House’s routing templates, etc. The longest of the videos, which is for new stakeholders, is 7 minutes. But it potentially saved Michael hours of time. “I’ve never had to do an actual training for stakeholders. I offer and say I’m available, but I’ve never had to. I think as soon as they just see a little bit of it, they catch on and that’s also a credit to Lytho.”
There were two other factors that Michael attributed to the migration’s success:
- Random House started with a “soft rollout,” only routing new jobs via the modern Lytho platform. They kept the 300 active jobs in Review and Approval until completion. “This allowed me to answer questions and troubleshoot issues at a much slower pace,” Michael said. Then, he adds that there was “very little” troubleshooting required because of the slow rollout and the videos.
- “I’m honored about the win but I have to include the team at Lytho. They were a tremendous help and a reassuring presence,” Michael said about the Lytho award. “The training team’s onboarding was amazing. I felt very taken care of, with them holding my hand along the process. We met with them weekly, or twice a week to spend an extended amount of time together. I would email all sorts of questions and they were very responsive and thoroughly researched the answers if they didn’t know them off-hand.”
Since launching, the team’s efforts have included some very complicated workflows. Some have even had up to 16 tiers of review from stakeholders. But Michael said the team is getting through the approval process within 3-4 rounds using Lytho’s Review + Approval. And with the migration, Michael said he is now more hands-off when it comes to task management and focusing on other important initiatives. “The customized reporting and Lytho’s flexibility has allowed us to decentralize project management and spread the work around.”
Michael’s division now uses Lytho to review and approve book jackets and marketing materials for 800 books per year.